Dear Runners: Welcome to Marathon Moments

Welcome to NYRR´s Marathon Moments. In line with our What Does It Take ad campaign for this year´s marathon, we thought you might enjoy some live – in the thick of things – insights from some of our NYRR team as we head to marathon day. Several of our NYRR team will share insights over these next three weeks. I want to recap a few things from the last week and give you a sense of our last month heading to the big day, but will start with the moment we are in at this minute.

Sunday, October 12: 11:35 a.m. NYC time, 10:35 Chicago time, 12:35 Rio time

We are three weeks out from Marathon day. I am thinking about our many runners prepping all over the world and our NYRR team and friends in the industry staging races today. Yesterday and today, many of the marathoners ran a race or their longest run as they get ready for the end goal on November 2. I feel like a cheerleader wanted to encourage and cheer for each and everyone as they work hard to fulfill their marathon dreams. From the nervous first timers to the hard core trying to run better than ever.

Today, our NYRR team is staying in touch live from North America and South America. We do this all the time. We are often in different parts of the globe for major events or initiatives and want to stay in touch with each other and keep all informed. We are running fans at heart and on weekends like this, we have not only stars of the sport to follow, but many of our NYRR members, staff and other friends in running competing around the globe.

I am now over 100 emails and text messages since 5:30 am (NYTime) among our team at our three principal sites this morning. We have Peter Ciaccia and our race team at our Staten Island Half, Richard Finn and David Monti, as well as local runner Ben Brill, staying in touch from Chicago, and I am in Rio for the World Half Marathon Championships and IAAF meetings. I have also been in touch with NYRR board members as we are in the midst of negotiating what we hope will be the opportunity to build a major running center in NYC. And, of course, I am staying in touch with my husband, Derek, and sons, playing seemingly every sport in Derek´s folks´ yard in Boston.

Here is the recap of where are at this time:

Rio: The amazing Lornah Kiplagat and hard charger Zersanay Tadesse tore open the women´s and men´s races here. Lornah became the first women to win three in a row, I believe. She is so excited to come to NY for Marathon weekend as we are giving her our Abebe Bikila award in celebration of her important work with children in Kenya. More to follow on that in the coming weeks. Second in the men´s race was one of our favorites – Patrick Macau of Kenya. Patrick won the Healthy Kidney 10K and is one of the toughest, yet sweetest guys I have ever met. He has a big ol heart and smile to go with this talent and drive. All the makings of a global star. He went out hard with Zersanay, fell all the way back to 5th at one point and then fought back for the silver medal. That showed me – he has what it takes. Fingers crossed that we can get him to run NY next year after he debuts in the marathon this spring. The American women had a super race. All five women ran phenomenal races. They are not the rock stars and celebrities of American distance running. Rather, they are some of our top runners at that next level who often toil under the radar. Today, they ran as stars in their own right as they each ran their personal best or close to it in a major competition. The two that had never competed internationally, Jill Steffens and Stephanie Herbst, each ran PRs. Note – PRs with a big climb in the first 5K and heat, humidity and sun throughout the race. Must be about 80 degrees here. Top three finishers: Melissa White and Dot McMahon of the Hansons, and Kristin Nicolini of Team Minnesota fought hard for fourth place finishing as individuals in places 21, 24 and 25 and all ran solid times in the high 1:14-1:15 range. And, Stephanie Herbst? Trains by herself, mom of three, and – is going to be 43 next year. Classic smart running by the team – they were in 40th – 45th place at 10K. Jason Lehmkuhle, who was 5th in the USA Olympic Trials last year, ran a strong race as he tunes up for NY this year. Steve Sundell had a tough day as he preps for NY. I have high hopes of three American men in the top ten this year in NY. It won´t be easy, but it´s possible. 2006 NY Champion Marilson Gomes Dos Santos finished 8th here in front of the home crowd. Must have been hard for him not to be at his sharpest at home, but he has been clear with all – his focus is on NY three weeks from now.

Spectacularly dramatic course. The course winds through the city and by the mountains bursting from the Atlantic ocean. Some 16,000 expected in the people´s race.

Chicago: I am on pins and needles as I wait to see how staff members Sam Grotewold, Sabrina Tillman and Eva Rose Dwyer and many local runners including masters ace, Mary Darling, make out. I am feeling for them all big time as all are ready for big races and the heat is going to be tough. I especially feel for Sam, our professional athlete coordinator, while lean, Sam´s a big guy. He´s been ready for a marathon breakthrough for years and never seems to get the right day. Sun and heat are not his friends. He was so ready this year, and the last report from Ben Brill was that it looked like Sam was struggling and off pace at 21. Poor guy deserves better. Sabrina ran an amazing 3:13 in last year´s heat so I am not as worried about her. Same re Mary Darling who has been running hard in the heat in NYC and at Rockfeller Preserve, but she was worried about a leg injury going into the race. Eva Rose missed some time with injuries and feared the worse before the heat, so my radar of concern is up for her.

The pro race – Richard and David and agent of Olympic gold medalist Constantina Dita, Brendan Reilly, have been keeping me informed. I will let you click to results as the pro race is over, but quick summary – men went for it in the heat – at 2:05 pace for much of the race, and many fried as a result. Evans Cheriyout won it in 2:06 plus. Women were slower from the start. Lidyia Grigoryeva won it in 2:27:16. Gold medalist Dita 4th (as I would have expected post Beijing) and American Desi Davila, of the Hansons, had an excellent run finishing 5th or 6th.

Ugh – from Ben Brill on the course – Sam is walking with cramps at 40k. Had been on 6 minute pace for much of the race. The marathon is such a cruel distance, but Sam was ready for that – it´s the weather than none of us can control and is the great crippler. I need to finish typing so I can check in on the many other New Yorkers that we have running.

Staten Island: Over 3,600 starters. Weather perfect. Event team was fully ready to deliver for our many runners tuning up, just like Marilson and Jason, for NY a mere three weeks away. I hate to miss the Staten Island Half as it´s always good for us to prep for the big day by being in SI for the Half, but our team is all over it and making the most of our tune up. Last report was from Peter as they waited for the winning man and woman. He´s extra busy today as this race has added meaning to us. Sadly, it was only one year ago that we were celebrating long time race director of the Half and Start coordinator of the Marathon, Vic Navarra. At the time, Vic was in a wheelchair and could hardly see, a victim of a sinus cancer likely stemming from his 9-11 rescue and recovery efforts at Ground Zero. A long time FDNY man, retirement didn´t stop him from jumping in to help in those tragic days. A man with such a big heart, it still hurts that doing good seemingly did him in. So, Peter and our team will be granting a special award to the top FDNY runners in Staten Island in memory of Vic. Just got word from Peter all went well, and lots of runners stopping to say how they are looking forward to Marathon days – and the debut of our wave start system. Peter also txts about the ease of taking the Staten Island ferry, which has become the best and most fun way to travel to both the Half and the Marathon.

As I finish this “quick” update, word from Ben…Mary Darling on 3:17 pace at 40K (she was hoping 3:10 and I know she was ready for even faster) – so that´s actually quite good in the heat. Did I mention that Mary is another over 40 runner? A former 800 meter star at SMU and recently into distance running. With Ben´s last sentence, my heart aches ….sounds like a bunch of our New Yorkers have dropped out….likely quite smart of them. In the overall scheme of life, it´s not a big deal, but we all know how much training and effort it takes to prepare for a marathon, and I feel for every person done in by the weather. Luckily, I know most will go on and still benefit from the effort in another race on another day. I also am steeling myself for the many letters we will get, as we did last year, from the many runners that had to bag Chicago and wanted to run NYC. We always want to let everyone in, but our limited field prevents that. Luckily there are some charity entries left, so perhaps that will be an option for some of the drop outs and our Armory Track program, serving 300,000 NYC kids every year, may benefit as well as the charity.

Finally, I am thinking every minute about race director Carey Pinkowski and his team. It´s like they can´t get a break these last few years. Just praying that every one safely makes it to the finish line or drops out and saves it for another day.

Inspiration at every turn only tempered with feeling for the many that aren´t having the day they deserve. That´s racing. Cheers, Mary


One Response to Dear Runners: Welcome to Marathon Moments

  1. Betty says:

    Hi Mary and NYRR staff! Thanks for taking the time to share what goes on behind the scenes! I think it’s a great idea! Can’t wait to run my 7th NYC Marathon this year! I’m excited for the wave starts! It should definitely help with decreasing congestion on the course. Keep up the hard work!


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